Courtesy of Misti Roberts
Beauty the black Labrador retriever loves her duck best friends—so much that she put herself between them and an alligator outside their Florida home earlier this month.
It was a terrifying encounter, one that left the 8-year-old dog with a broken femur and gashes on her back, her owner Misti Roberts says. But the dog who's long looked after her feathered friends saved two of the three ducks and is now recovering at a veterinarian's office.
"It's just a miracle," Roberts tells Daily Paws. "It's amazing."
The Roberts family lives on the shore of Lake Powell in Panama City Beach, Fla. That's where Beauty grew up alongside the family's pet ducks. As of Sept. 13, the day the alligator attacked, the family tended to three of them: Cress, Downey, and Dot, the youngest.
Beauty likes spending time with the ducks, but it's a pretty one-sided relationship, Roberts says. The Lab will want to play with them, but they'll run away from her outside. Even Dot, the baby of the bunch, will avoid Beauty even though she spent so much time with the dog during her early days as an indoor duckling.
That's no matter, though, because Beauty still follows them down to the lake when they go for a swim to monitor them. The protective instinct is so strong that she once kept watch over the free-roaming ducks after they got stuck in a shrub. Roberts said they had no idea where Beauty had gone and were getting worried, only to find her next to the duck-filled shrub.
"She just loves those ducks and wants to be their friend," Roberts says.
Then came the events of last week. Beauty had followed the ducks down to the lake for bath time when Roberts heard a "horrible commotion." The ducks were squawking, and she could hear barks that didn't sound like Beauty's usual woofs. The first thing Roberts saw was the alligator.
She called for Beauty, and she came back toward the house, two ducks in tow. (Roberts hasn't seen Downey since, so she assumes the alligator ate the poor duck.) But Roberts could tell Beauty couldn't get up the stairs to the house.
"There was just blood everywhere," she says.
Roberts and her three teenage daughters quickly got Beauty into the van and on her way to the veterinarian. Gerrie Barr, DVM, told WJHG that Beauty was in serious condition.
"She was unstable and in shock, she had multiple soft tissue wounds and an obvious leg issue," Barr told the TV station.
According to Roberts, Barr was surprised Beauty survived the attack. But now the hero dog is well on the road to recovery. After surgeons last weekend placed a pin in her broken leg, Beauty is up and walking on her three operational limbs. Barr is still keeping her under close observation, making sure the reptile bites heal correctly. Otherwise, she's doing really well, Roberts says.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is looking for the alligator, only the second Roberts has ever seen in the lake, which sits right beside the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, Beauty will soon return home to reunite with her duck friends—who will hopefully be a little friendlier to their canine friend after she saved their lives.
"Beauty is just such a loyal, loving dog," Roberts says.